ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Only six golfers turned out to greet Rex Ostmeyer in his first year as Marion High School golf coach, but the new coach thinks the ability of those golfers is good enough to contend for tournament titles.
“Quality shouldn’t be a factor,” Ostmeyer said. “We don’t have a lot of kids out, but it’s one of those things where I’d rather have six kids who want to be out here and are focused and love the game of golf, than have 20 kids out who are just goofing around and chasing squirrels.
“These kids want to play and compete.”
Ostmeyer succeeds Doug Dick, who now teaches and coaches at Hillsboro.
For Ostmeyer, the position is a dream come true.
“I’ve been involved in golf for some time,” he said. “I coached a little when I was in junior college and I love the game.
“Golf is basically the only hobby I have in my life at this time and I was the unofficial assistant coach here the past couple of years,” he added. “So when Doug went to Hillsboro, I basically let the school know I was interested in the job.”
Ostmeyer said his goal for the program is simple-compete as a team and get better as individuals.
“The goal should be state tournament as a team,” he said. “When I was in (Hoxie) high school, I qualified for three state 3A tournaments and that was a great experience and a lot of fun.”
Ostmeyer will count on junior Travis Hett, a state qualifier in 2005, to lead the squad.
“Travis is one of the best players in the area and should contend at each meet this year, including regionals and state,” Ostmeyer said. “He’s a very talented golfer.”
Three other letter winners-all juniors-will also be counted on to contribute low scores: Keith Jones, Chase Carlson and Jake Bredemeier.
“Keith is left-handed and loves, loves, loves the game of golf,” Ostmeyer said. “He’s a very good player.”
“Chase needs to keep working on his game; if he gets a few things ironed out, he’s going to be all right,” Ostmeyer said. “He has a good attitude about golf.”
“Jake loves golf and plays a lot,” Ostmeyer said. “The key for Jake is to keep his confidence up because I think the power of positive thinking is going to be very important for him. He hits the ball as well as anybody.”
Freshman Luke Gordon comes into the program with considerable junior golf experience.
“His mental game is going to be important,” Ostmeyer said. “He just needs to learn what club to hit and when to hit it.”
Rounding out the squad will be Paul Hodson.
“Paul has improved tremendously, but he’s very inexperienced,” Ostmeyer said. “I think as he plays more, he’s going to get better and better.”
Ostmeyer said his job as coach will be to keep his players focused on the task at hand.
“I need them to focus on thinking about the shot they need to hit, but once they get over the ball, they need to quit thinking and just swing away,” he said. “I feel the mental part of golf is even more important than the swing itself.”
Even though the squad is small, Ostmeyer said he expects it to be competitive every time it hits the links.
“We have enough kids to compete for team titles, but we have to be consistent,” he said. “These kids need to be consistent and focus on their next shot so one bad shot doesn’t cost them more bad shots or even more bad holes.
“Golf is a game of mistakes, and you’re not going to be perfect. But you have to understand that and make intelligent decisions to overcome those mistakes.”
Ostmeyer said his personal satisfaction will come from his athletes showing improvement.
“We’re such a young group, but all of them have tremendous up side and they really like to play,” he said. “They’ve all played competitive golf before, they just need confidence and that’s where my focus is as a coach.”
Marion opens the season Tuesday at Herington before traveling to Hillsboro on Friday, April 7.
“I’m going to require my golfers to focus on how many shots they felt like they gave away in each tournament,” Ostmeyer said. “If we can reduce our giveaway shots, they’ll be putting up some good scores.
“We all like to have lots of numbers (on our roster), but if the ones you do have are committed to winning and working hard, that’s still a good situation.”